Shamkir Rd8: Three-way fight for first

by Alejandro Ramirez
6/3/2016 – It was a dramatic penultimate round in which leader Caruana hit an oil slick and lost to Mamedyarov. Things might have gone worse for him had rival Anish Giri managed to win his game against Hou Yifan a piece up, but in the end he failed to convert. Caruana, Giri, and Mamedyarov can all win now, since first place is decided by a playoff in the event of a draw. Round eight report.

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Third Shamkir Tournament in memory of Vugar Gashimov

The Vugar Gashimov Memorial, is being held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan, from the May 26 to June 4, 2016, in memory of the great Vugar Gashimov, who passed away on the 10th of January 2014. The tournament features ten world-class players: Fabiano Caruana (2795), Anish Giri (2790), Sergey Karjakin (2779), Pavel Eljanov (2750), Pentala Harikrishna (2763), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2750), Teimour Radjabov (2726), Eltaj Safarli (2664), Hou Yifan (2663) and Rauf Mamedov (2650). The time control is 120/40 moves + 60/20 moves + 15 minutes + 30 seconds/move at 61st move.

All games start at 3 p.m. local time = 1 p.m. in Europe (CEST), one hour earlier in Britain, and 2 p.m. in Moscow. You can find the starting time at your location here. Today's pairings:

Round 8 – June 3, 2016
Anish Giri
½-½
Hou Yifan
Rauf Mamedov
½-½
Pavel Eljanov
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Pentala Harikrishna
Eltaj Safarli
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Fabiano Caruana
0-1
Shak Mamedyarov

Watch it live on Playchess!

Round Eight

What a round! Despite the four draws, the results lined up an exciting last round. Giri is now tied with Caruana for the lead, and with some good technique he could even have been leading the tournament. As it is, the tournament is up for grabs to three people, as Mamedyarov, Giri and Caruana all have a shot: the tiebreak used to determine the winner is a play-off!

Giri, Anish ½-½ Hou Yifan
Positionally, Giri played an exemplary game. He isolated his opponent's pawns, penetrated with his rook, and Hou Yifan's position looked like it was somewhere between painful and lost. However, the young Chinese World Champion is a resourceful player, and after several inaccuracies from Giri she found this resource:

A big miss from Anish Giri

[Event "Vugar Gashimov Mem 2016"] [Site "Shamkir AZE"] [Date "2016.06.03"] [Round "8.2"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "Hou, Yifan"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D38"] [WhiteElo "2790"] [BlackElo "2663"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "206"] [EventDate "2016.05.26"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. Qb3 c5 8. cxd5 exd5 9. a3 Bxc3+ 10. Qxc3 Nd7 11. g3 O-O 12. Bg2 Re8 13. e3 b6 14. O-O Bb7 15. Rfc1 a5 16. dxc5 Qxc3 17. Rxc3 Nxc5 18. Rac1 Kf8 19. Nd4 Rad8 20. Bf1 Re7 21. Bb5 g6 22. b4 axb4 23. axb4 Ne4 24. Rc7 Nd6 25. Rxe7 Kxe7 26. Rc7+ Kf8 27. Bd3 Rb8 28. g4 Ke8 29. Bb5+ Kf8 30. Bd7 Bc8 31. h3 Bxd7 32. Rxd7 Ne4 33. Nc6 Ra8 34. Ne5 Ra1+ 35. Kg2 Ra2 36. Rxf7+ Kg8 37. h4 Rb2 38. Rf4 Kg7 39. Nc6 b5 40. Nd8 Rxb4 41. Ne6+ Kg8 42. Rf8+ Kh7 43. Rf7+ Kh8 44. Rf8+ Kh7 45. Rf7+ Kh8 46. f3 {Black has been against the ropes for a while, but this position is already not as bad as it used to be. Black could move her knight to c3 and hope to hold, though it is still very unpleasant, but Yifan has a clear cut solution.} Rb2+ $1 47. Kh3 Re2 48. Rf8+ Kh7 49. Rf7+ Kh8 50. Rf8+ Kh7 51. fxe4 {Black gives up her knight, but this time she gets enough pawns and the pawn count from White is too reduced.} Rxe3+ 52. Kh2 Rxe4 53. Rf7+ Kh8 54. Rf8+ Kh7 55. Rf7+ Kh8 56. Nc7 Kg8 57. Rd7 Rxg4 58. Kh3 Rc4 59. Nxd5 Kf8 60. Nf6 Rc6 $1 61. Ng4 Rb6 $1 62. Nxh6 b4 {By sacrificing the h6 pawn and pushing the b-pawn Black guarantees that the rook will remain passive. This gives her enough time to bring in her king and easily draw, as White cannot both take the b-pawn and hang on to her h-pawn.} 63. Rf7+ Ke8 64. Rf2 b3 65. Rb2 Ke7 66. Ng4 Ke6 67. Re2+ Kf7 68. Rb2 Ke6 69. Kg3 Rb5 70. Nf2 Kf6 71. Ne4+ Kg7 72. Ng5 Kh6 73. Nf3 Rb4 74. Kf2 (74. Nd2 Kh5 75. Nxb3 {is a draw either by taking the h-pawn or just keeping the rook on the b-file. White can't make progress.}) 74... Kh5 75. Ke3 Rb8 76. Ke4 Rb4+ 77. Kd5 Kg4 78. Ne5+ Kh5 79. Nf3 Kg4 80. Kc5 Rb8 81. Ne5+ Kh5 82. Nc6 Rb7 83. Na5 Rb8 84. Nc6 Rb7 85. Ne5 Rb8 86. Kc4 Rc8+ 87. Kd4 Rb8 88. Kc3 Rb5 89. Nf3 Rb8 90. Nd4 Kxh4 91. Nxb3 g5 92. Rh2+ Kg3 93. Rh7 g4 94. Nd2 Rg8 95. Kd3 Kg2 96. Nc4 Rf8 97. Nd2 g3 98. Rg7 Ra8 99. Ke3 Ra3+ 100. Kf4 Kg1 101. Nc4 g2 102. Nxa3 Kf2 103. Rxg2+ Kxg2 1/2-1/2

Resourceful until the end: Women's World Champion Hou Yifan

Mamedov, Rauf ½-½ Eljanov, Pavel
The opening didn't seem to go that well for White. Black's Caro-Kann position was super solid and when White sacrificed a pawn on d4 only to regain it on h7 it seemed to me like something already went wrong. Black equalized easily and after trading off some pieces the players reached an easily drawn opposite colored bishop endgame.

No problem equalizing today for Pavel Eljanov

Mamedov was certainly pleased with Giri's position

Radjabov, Teimour ½-½ Harikrishna, Pentala
The players managed to annihilate the pieces pretty early on, the resulting rook endgame was clearly drawn.

Teimour Radjabov: Fireworks in every game!

Safarli, Eltaj ½-½ Karjakin, Sergey
Karjakin might have kept tournament winning chances alive if he was a bit more precise.

Karjakin overseeing his rivals games

Whatever Safarli prepared for the opening simply did not work

[Event "Vugar Gashimov Mem 2016"] [Site "Shamkir AZE"] [Date "2016.06.03"] [Round "8"] [White "Safarli, E."] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B13"] [WhiteElo "2664"] [BlackElo "2779"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "43"] [EventDate "2016.05.26"] 1. c4 c6 2. e4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. d4 {The Caro-Kann (which this now is) is not part of Karjakin's repertoire, but since the Panov-Botvinnik is considered acceptable for Black in most variations, a lot of Black players are not afraid of answering 1.c4 with c6.} Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 Be6 {This line has been considered good for Black for a while now, though White keeps trying to find an edge somehow. The most popular move here is 7.a3.} 7. Be2 (7. a3 Qd7 8. b4 $5 $13) 7... Qa5 8. Bf3 {By far not the most common move, but it scores well. Both Nf3 and c5 are more common but score badly.} dxc4 9. d5 O-O-O 10. Bd2 Nxd5 11. Nxd5 Rxd5 12. Bxd5 {The novelty, although of questionable value.} (12. Bxa5 Rxd1+ 13. Rxd1 Nxa5 14. Bd5 {led to a win for White in Naiditsch-Dreev from 2014, but Black should be at least fine here.}) 12... Qxd5 13. Nf3 Bf5 { White is up the exchange, but as soon as Black finishes development he not only has enough material for the exchange, but a fantastic position.} 14. O-O e6 $6 {This inaccuracy lets the advantage slip away.} (14... Bd3 15. Re1 e5 $1 {With real pressure}) 15. b3 $1 Bd3 16. bxc4 {With the c-file open like this it's hard to believe Black can be better. On the other hand his pieces should be strong enough to not be worse either.} Qf5 17. Re1 Bc5 18. Be3 Bb4 19. Bd2 Bc5 20. Be3 Bb4 21. Bd2 Bc5 22. Be3 1/2-1/2

Caruana, Fabiano 0-1 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar
Without a doubt the result of the day!

The man of the hour and keeping his hopes of winning the tournament alive: Shakh Mamedyarov

[Event "Vugar Gashimov Mem 2016"] [Site "Shamkir AZE"] [Date "2016.06.03"] [Round "8"] [White "Caruana, F."] [Black "Mamedyarov, S."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B33"] [WhiteElo "2804"] [BlackElo "2748"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "116"] [EventDate "2016.05.26"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Nd5 Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. c4 b4 12. Nc2 O-O {This variation of the Sveshnikov is not known for the most exciting games, but it is a positional and hard strugge usually.} 13. h4 $5 {The idea of this move is to take away the g5 square from the Black bishop as well as to give White the option of play Bh3 in the future. It has been tested at the top level a few times.} a5 14. g3 Be6 15. Bh3 Rb8 16. Qd3 Qd7 {Played before but not a move easily played. It is true that it's awkward to make a decision with the bishop on h3, but Black is sacrificing his structure at the moment without a clear option of going f5 in the future.} (16... a4 {Caruana himself had this position previously, against Van Wely in 2014. He won that game.}) 17. Nxf6+ gxf6 18. Bf5 (18. Bg2 f5 $6 (18... Rbd8 $13) 19. O-O-O {leads to some Sveshnikov play that I suspect favors White.}) 18... Qb7 19. Ne3 Nd4 20. O-O b3 21. a3 Kh8 22. Rac1 {Black's structural problems on the kingside are clear. In compensation he has a powerful knight on d4 that is not very easily dislodged, pressure against e4 and c4, and space on the queenside. The game is dynamically balanced at the moment.} Rbc8 23. Rfe1 Rc5 (23... Nf3+ 24. Kg2 Nxe1+ 25. Rxe1 { looks like a free exchange, but upon closer inspection it is unclear if the rook on e1 is worth less than the knight on d4.}) 24. Qd1 Bxf5 25. Nxf5 Nxf5 26. exf5 {Mamedyarov decides to swap some pieces. The structural weakness of f6 is now hidden behind the f5 pawn, so it is not a problem for the moment. Meanwhile Black has active pieces and pressure on c4.} Rd8 27. Qh5 Kg7 { Wouldn't want to allow a queen to h6.} 28. Rc3 (28. Qg4+ Kf8 29. Qh5 {would ask for a draw, but Black doesn't have to oblige.} Ke7 $5) 28... h6 29. Ree3 $6 {White's strange configuration with the rooks I can only guess is aimed at opening the kingside somehow. However it simply does not work, and now Black takes the opportunity to open up the position.} a4 30. Qe2 d5 $1 {The break exposes a couple of key features of the position: one is that White gets backrank mated in any many variations as long as the queen is on b7, the other is that the pawn on b3 can potentially become a monster.} 31. Qf3 Rdc8 $1 32. cxd5 Rxc3 33. Rxc3 Rxc3 34. Qxc3 Qxd5 {The queenendgame is lost for White. There will be no defense against Qd1-c2.} 35. Qb4 h5 $2 {Black's king is very safe against perpetuals, so this wasn't necessary.} (35... e4 $1 36. Qxa4 Qd1+ 37. Kg2 (37. Kh2 Qe2 38. Qd4 e3 39. Qxe3 Qxb2 {changes very little.}) 37... Qf3+ 38. Kg1 e3 $19 {is a far more accurate approach.}) 36. Qxa4 Qd3 $6 37. g4 Qb1+ 38. Kg2 Qxb2 39. gxh5 Qc2 {As your computer will tell you, the drawing move here is} 40. Qg4+ (40. Qb4 $1 b2 41. h6+ $1 Kxh6 (41... Kh7 42. Qf8 Qe4+ 43. f3 $1 Qe2+ 44. Kg3 Qe1+ 45. Kg2 $11) 42. Qf8+ Kh5 43. Kg3 $1 {Again a quiet king move in a Caruana variation. This threatens a perpetual with Qh8-g8 and it cannot be stopped. Unless, of course, Black doesn't see the other threat, Qxf7 and Qg6 mate.} Qxf5 44. Qh8+ Kg6 45. Qg8+ Kh6 46. Qf8+ Kh7 47. Qxf7+ Kh6 48. Qf8+ Kg6 49. Qg8+ Kh6 50. Qf8+ Kg6 51. Qg8+ Kh5 52. Qh8+ $11) 40... Kh7 41. h6 $2 (41. Qa4 $1 {Was the only way to still keep the pawn in check. The computer still claims this is drawn.}) 41... Kxh6 42. Qg8 Qxf5 43. Qf8+ Kh5 (43... Kg6 $1) 44. f3 Kxh4 (44... Qc2+ $1 45. Kg3 Qc4 {is some computer shenanigans.}) 45. Qb4+ Qf4 46. Qxb3 Qd2+ 47. Kf1 Kg3 {This positoin is still totally winning for Black.} 48. f4+ Kxf4 49. a4 f5 50. Qb5 Qd1+ 51. Kf2 Qc2+ 52. Kf1 f6 53. Qb4+ {This just helps Black, but Caruana was busted no matter what he did.} e4 54. Qb5 Kg3 55. Qe2 Qxe2+ 56. Kxe2 f4 57. a5 f3+ 58. Kf1 e3 (58... e3 59. a6 e2+ 60. Ke1 Kg2 61. a7 f2+ 62. Kxe2 f1=Q+ 63. Ke3 Qa6) 0-1

Losing with White is not something that happens to Caruana often

Round Eight Games

Standings after eight rounds

Note: in case of a tie for first place, the winner of the tournament will be decided by a playoff. First a mini-match
of two games at 10 minutes plus 3 seconds, then, if necessary, a second mini-match of two games of 5 minutes
and 3 seconds, and finally, if still drawn, an Armageddon game in which white has 5 minutes and black has 6.

Schedule and results

Round 1 – May 26, 2016
Rauf Mamedov
½-½
Anish Giri
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Hou Yifan
Eltaj Safarli
½-½
Pavel Eljanov
Fabiano Caruana
½-½
Pentala Harikrishna
Shak Mamedyarov
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Round 3 – May 28, 2016
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Anish Giri
Eltaj Safarli
½-½
Rauf Mamedov
Fabiano Caruana
1-0
Hou Yifan
Shak Mamedyarov
1-0
Pavel Eljanov
Sergey Karjakin
1-0
Pentala Harikrishna
Round 5 – May 30, 2016
Eltaj Safarli
0-1
Anish Giri
Fabiano Caruana
1-0
Teimour Radjabov
Shak Mamedyarov
½-½
Rauf Mamedov
Sergey Karjakin
1-0
Hou Yifan
Pentala Harikrishna
1-0
Pavel Eljanov
Round 6 – June 1, 2016
Anish Giri
½-½
Pavel Eljanov
Hou Yifan
½-½
Pentala Harikrishna
Rauf Mamedov
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Shak Mamedyarov
Eltaj Safarli
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
Round 8 – June 3, 2016
Anish Giri
½-½
Hou Yifan
Rauf Mamedov
½-½
Pavel Eljanov
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Pentala Harikrishna
Eltaj Safarli
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Fabiano Caruana
0-1
Shak Mamedyarov
 
Round 2 – May 27, 2016
Anish Giri
1-0
Sergey Karjakin
Pentala Harikrishna
1-0
Shak Mamedyarov
Pavel Eljanov
0-1
Fabiano Caruana
Hou Yifan
½-½
Eltaj Safarli
Rauf Mamedov
½-½
Teimour Radjabov
Round 4 – May 29, 2016
Anish Giri
1-0
Pentala Harikrishna
Pavel Eljanov
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Hou Yifan
½-½
Shak Mamedyarov
Rauf Mamedov
0-1
Fabiano Caruana
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Eltaj Safarli
May 31, 2016
Free day
Round 7 – June 2, 2016
Fabiano Caruana
½-½
Anish Giri
Shak Mamedyarov
1-0
Eltaj Safarli
Sergey Karjakin
½-½
Teimour Radjabov
Pentala Harikrishna
½-½
Rauf Mamedov
Pavel Eljanov
1-0
Hou Yifan
Round 9 – June 4, 2016
Shak Mamedyarov
-
Anish Giri
Sergey Karjakin
-
Fabiano Caruana
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Eltaj Safarli
Pavel Eljanov
-
Teimour Radjabov
Hou Yifan
-
Rauf Mamedov

Live commentary on Playchess

Date Round English German
03.6.2016 Round 8 Yasser Seirawan Klaus Bischoff
04.6.2016 Round 9 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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Aighearach Aighearach 6/4/2016 12:30
Sorry for double-commenting, but I wanted to say that the so-called "computer shenanigans" looks perfectly reasonable to me. I wouldn't have likely seen it, granted. But it isn't some computers-only line; it has real and obvious merits that are accessible to humans, even under-2000-rated humans. Protects f7 in addition to threatening to take the pawn with check and be able to reposition the queen for free; and if not allowed, then there is also a threats starting with checks on f4. It also takes away b4, which regardless of the game text is the only real square where white can make threats on both sides of the board. I'll bet Carlsen saw it right away!

Also, Hou Yifan didn't defend a piece-down endgame, she defended a dangerous endgame with equal material but weak pawns by brilliantly trading a piece for some pawns and achieving a clear draw. She's the one who entered that line; Giri didn't miss anything, he simply never had a winning advantage. If Carlsen played the exact same moves, the commentary would be very different. But it shouldn't be that way.
Aighearach Aighearach 6/4/2016 12:12
I like the way ties are handled in the local open tournaments; you just share the top spot, and split the prize! Easy, accurate, honest. If a tie happened, it really happened. Why pretend it didn't, formula or playoff? The plaque for the State Championship trophy has multiple names for some years. It is what happened in those years. It really happened! And it was just fine, the sky didn't fall or anything.
Paul Janse Paul Janse 6/4/2016 08:37
According to Mr. Ramirez, Giri lacked "some good technique", but he doesn't take the trouble to tell us where Giri could have done better. That's kind of gratuitous. In fact, I think it was more a case of brilliant defense by Hou Yifan.
peter frost peter frost 6/4/2016 06:56
I agree entirely with satman. Blitz/rapid play offs require a different skill set and should not be used to determine the outcome of a classical tournament. I don't understand why some feel there is diminishment if first place is shared. Any diminishment surely pales in comparison to the huge sense of incongruity we feel when a high class classical tournament is decided by someone hanging a Rook in a wild time scramble in a blitz game. Much better to share first prize...can someone explain why this seems to be frowned upon these days?
kayatoast kayatoast 6/4/2016 02:31
Yeah, 3 way tie not possible. Either 2 way or 4 way here.
initiative initiative 6/4/2016 01:54
Unless 5 = 5.5 or 2 = 3, there isn't a three way tie for first, as Mamedyarov has half a point less than Caruana and Giri.
x_ileon@yahoo.co.uk x_ileon@yahoo.co.uk 6/4/2016 01:28
After all, guys, don't forget: these guys' rapid games are stronger than even lesser GMs' classicals!
genem genem 6/4/2016 01:18
@Berman & @DJones: I agree that mathematical tie-breaks harm the enjoyability of what should be exciting final rounds. A Blitz playoff is much better.
As @Satman said, even no tie-breaker of any kind would be better than any mathematical tie-breaker.
.
@Alejandro Ramirez: A game can end in a 'draw', but not a tournament. A tournament can end in a 'tie'. Chess does not have "draw-breakers" ;-)
DJones DJones 6/4/2016 12:45
Beat deciding by some formula. Let the players duke it out over the board. Personally I would be fine with a two game in one day classical playoff because so much money is on the line but I am fine with rapid playoff. Blitz is too much.
Bertman Bertman 6/3/2016 08:28
@satman

It beats deciding it on some mathematical formula.
satman satman 6/3/2016 08:03
What's the point of rapid/blitz play-offs after a tie in a classic chess round-robin tourney?
It doesn't add anything, but instead devalues the classical game.
If it's in the cause of making chess more exciting then it can only fail - the excitement of chess is in the moves, not in the format.
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